Zumaia Flysch: World Cup Leaders Battle For the Titles
The runners woke to rainy conditions in Zumaia, ready to take on a course with softer conditions underfoot than we’re used to in the World Cup! Zumaia Flysch was the venue for stage 14 and 15 of this year’s competition, with the 42k race going off first at 7.30am, then the 22k race at 8.30am.
The runners tackling the marathon distance set off in the dark in a drizzly square in Zumaia. The start line included Charlotte Morgan (GBR), who has had a fantastic World Cup this year with wins at Canfranc Marathon and Tatra Race Run. But it was expected to be a tough battle with Oihana Kortazar (ESP), who won Canfranc Marathon last year. In the men’s race the stand-out runner was Raul Criado (ESP), who has also been on the podium at several World Cup events this year, but he faced a tough field of Spanish runners, including many locals from the Basque Country.
In the early stages of the women’s race it was Kortazar leading Morgan by a short distance. But at around the halfway point Morgan caught Kortazar and then slowly began to pull away throughout the second half. Morgan won in 5.18.30, with Kortazar second in 5.26.25. There was a big gap back to third placed Belen Perez (ESP) who finished in 6.29.55.
In the men’s race there was a clear leader from the start and that was Criado (in header picture above). He proceeded to stretch that lead further and further over the course of the race and the almost 3000m of elevation. The field of talented Spanish runners chased Criado but he was to prove too strong. Criado won in 4.35.16 with a big gap back to Ismail Razga (ESP) in second in 4.59.25. Igon Mancisidor (ESP) was third in 5.03.22.
Full results for the marathon at: http://www.kronoak.com/live/2021/flyschzumaia42k/
Conditions were still damp when the 22k classic distance runners set off. By now there was a fair bit of mud on the course, which added to the considerable challenge of a lot of uphill and downhill along the coastal route. Many of the athletes toeing the line were lying in the top 10 World Cup rankings, including Joyce Njeru (KEN), Lucy Murigi (KEN), Alice Gaggi (ITA), Geoffrey Ndungu (KEN) and Sandor Szabo (HUN).
In the women’s race it was Njeru and Murigi who set the early pace, and indeed were neck and neck for much of the race as they battled the conditions. Eventually it was Njeru who came out on top, taking another World Cup victory, hot on the heels of Trofeo Ciolo, but it was close. Njeru won in 1.41.32 with Murigi less than a minute behind in 1.42.14. Gaggi who came through for third place in 1.49.18.
In the men’s race Ndungu and Szabo led from the front. Like Njeru and Murigi they worked with each other in the early stages tried to make a break from the chasing pack. Ndungu gradually pulled away and took the win in 1.36.48 but Szabo was right behind him in 1.37.13. Amets Aramberri (ESP) was also close behind in third in 1.37.59.
Full results for the 22k at: http://www.kronoak.com/live/2021/flyschzumaia21k/